Hampton road poses danger, may close

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Staso Road in the town of Hampton drops sharply after its intersection with County Route 18, creating a situation residents and town officials say presents a potential danger to drivers. The town is considering closing the road, which is used as a bus route by the Granville Central School District. (Photo by EJ Conzola II)
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The Hampton Town Board is considering closing a portion of Staso Road that is used by school buses because of what they see as a potentially dangerous situation.

Discussion of the plan was prompted by a town Highway Department truck that nearly went off the road and down a roughly 50-foot drop, according to town supervisor David O’Brien.

The eastbound turn from County Route 18 onto Staso Road is an acute angle, with a significant drop-off on the east side of the road. Staso Road itself also drops steeply immediately after the intersection, creating problems both for drivers going down the hill and those coming up because the angle it places the vehicle at reduces an already limited sight distance along the county route.

The sharp turn and steep drop have also caused some trucks to become hung up on the intersection, said town clerk Rebecca Jones.

The only solution that would somewhat ameliorate the problem would be to widen the intersection, making the turn less difficult, said highway superintendent Tyler McClure. However, because of the topography, such a fix could be very expensive – a solution that would be impractical because traffic on the road is very light, McClure said.

Although Granville Central School District buses use the road, there are currently no school-age children living there, McClure noted.

The best option would seem to be to close at least a portion of the road, O’Brien said. The town would not abandon the road, retaining possession of it, but once closed it would no longer be maintained, he said.

Closure should not create a significant hardship for those living along the road or who currently use it, O’Brien said. Ballard Road, which intersects with County Route 18 just east of Staso Road, and State Route 22A would still give access to the portion of Staso Road below the hill, he noted.

Ballard Road – which is relatively flat and has a much less acute-turn intersection with County Route 18, is only about two-tenths of a mile past Staso Road and using it would add only about half a mile to a trip. All three houses on the lower portion of Staso Road are also accessible from Ballard Road if the town closes only the hill section of the problematic road.

Using State Route 22A as an alternative to Staso Road would add only about three-quarters of a mile to a trip.

Dick Stark, who lives on Staso Road just north of its intersection with Route 22A, said he is concerned every time he sees a school bus on the road – not only because of the design of the road but because of a culvert under the road he fears could collapse under the weight of a fully-loaded bus. Still, Stark said, he would not like to see the entire portion of the road closed, even if it remained open to those living along it.

Granville school officials did not respond to emailed requests for comment.